Maternal Health Care: A Right, Not a Privilege!

Pregnancy complications could be safely averted if detected early and with better care.

In the year 2000, the month of September, leaders of 189 countries converged at the United Nations headquarters and set their hands to the historic Millennium Declaration. In this landmark declaration, the goal was an unwavering commitment to reducing extreme poverty and its many manifestations. This goal was further split into 8 actionable goals with measurable targets and clear deadlines, which came to be christened the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), collectively given a period of 15 years to be accomplished.

Goal number 5 stood unmistakable: Improve maternal health.

Fifteen years later, the inter-agency and expert group on MDGs spearheaded by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat turned in the Millenium Development Goals Report of 2015. The report was rooted in a master set of statistical indicators. In its foreword, the then UN secretariat Ban-ki Moon wrote, “too many women continue to die during pregnancy or from childbirth complications.” Despite the deliberate intervention, attaining goal 5 of reducing maternal mortality fell under the bar.

Fast forward. On Tuesday, April 13, 2021, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris hosted a roundtable discussion where participants deliberated on the unacceptable disparities black women in the U.S. face in maternal health. In the hours leading to the roundtable discussion, the Biden-Harris administration had come out to the public with a presidential proclamation, the first of its kind, on Black Maternal Health. In the proclamation, the President of the United States lamented that among the developed world, America ranks high in maternal mortality rates. He went on to write, “Health care is a right, not a privilege.”

Now, if that’s in a developed country, then you can imagine the severity of the situation in developing or underdeveloped countries. A maternal mortality levels and trends research published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019 highlighted a shocking revelation that Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to have 50 times higher maternal deaths than any other region in the world. But why has the safe transition from pregnancy to happy motherhood slipped out of the hands of African nations at such sky-rocketed rates?

Source: World Health Organization/UNICEF

Why is maternal mortality so high in Africa?

In Chapter 16 of Disease and Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa (the 2nd Edition), the following interactive factors make the list of causes of high maternal mortality rates:

·         Behavior of families and communities

·         Availability of health services

·         Social status

·         Education

·         Income

·         Nutritional status

·         Age

·         Parity

If we pay closer attention to the above issues, we’ll note that most of them are tied to a lack of affordable and accessible diagnostics. Pregnancy complications could be safely averted if detected early and with better care.

Ilara Health partnering with healthcare facilities in Africa to improve maternal care

Ilara Health identified major maternal health problems at healthcare facilities in urban and peri-urban settings in Africa. Ultrasound scans are expensive, presenting financial strain to patients, and the existing ultrasound machines are huge and expensive for small clinics to acquire. The size factor limits the machine’s portability, meaning all patients have to visit the limited number of facilities that offer the service.

Ilara Health sought to solve this, and the answer came in the form of the Butterfly iQ device, a revolutionary portable hand-held ultrasound machine that offers top-quality ultrasounds at a fraction of the price.

By offering flexible payment methods to clinics, this technology-powered diagnostic device can now be acquired. This translates to better maternal health care. Pregnant women now have access to safe and affordable care throughout their pregnancy, and this has played a crucial contribution in the reduction of maternal deaths in Africa.

The Butterfly iQ has 3 probes in one and comes with 19 presets preinstalled, making it the only one of its kind in the world. It is small enough to fit in your pocket and delivers accurate scans with clear images on the iPhone it is connected to. The device’s cloud storage feature enables easy access and sharing of scans electronically. Patients get involved in the process, and pregnancy complications are detected early and averted.

Even though Africa still falls behind in the quest to flatten the maternal deaths curve, the Butterfly iQ device is a new sliver of hope, as Africa unites with the rest of the world to make better health care accessible to all. #HealthForAll is a goal that can be achieved, and will be achieved. 

Clinics interested in acquiring the device can contact us here.


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